Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) is a good example of “spiritual blowback”, how hardship and adversity can have the opposite effect to what was intended. Richard was a Christian pastor in Romania, imprisoned by the Communists in 1944 for the crime of being part of an underground Church.
He spent 14 years in prison, three of them in solitary confinement. It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, under the threatened penalty of a severe beating. Richard decided he would take the risk, and in his book, “Tortured for Christ”, he describes the savage and brutal beatings and torture he endured on many occasions. He suffered burns, knife wounds, broken bones and shattered vertebrae.
At the end of 14 years he emerged from prison as a man of deep conviction, great compassion and profound wisdom. He emigrated to America, and published several books about his experiences. He also founded the international organization Voice of the Martyrs, to publicize religious persecution and to help those being persecuted for their faith.
There are some who can see no meaning or purpose in pain and suffering. Richard Wurmbrand’s life and development as a person show how true character and dedication can be forged in the fire of suffering and adversity. It is just as the Risen Lord explained to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “It was necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things, and so enter into his glory” (Luke 24, 25-26)
There are times in the life of almost everyone when things do not work out as you planned, and you are fearful at the prospect of pain or failure. You feel that life is not fair, and that the pain outweighs the pleasure. I take heart in these words of an unknown author:
“I walked a mile with Pleasure; she chattered all the way, But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow, and not a word spoke she, But Oh the things I learned from her, when Sorrow walked with me”